Winter music

Some music for a gray winter day in DC.

Richard Wagner, in one his many  infatuations, had more than a passing, affair with Mathilde Wesendonck (and following his usual m.o., cadged a lot of money and housing from her, and Otto, her husband).

the first measures…

One result of this is a set of songs, The Wesendonck Lieder, to poems she wrote and which he set while he had Tristan in mind among other things. The final song, “Träume,” is a 5-minute Wagner gem (most of his portions come in 5 hours so that’s saying something):  a nice distillation of what is so distinctive about him–the endless line, the sense of yearning, the odd text setting (he’s sort of the humpty-dumpty of prosody, “words will have stresses where I mean them to!”)–and the radiant glow, distinctly his in an era of ardent romantic music.

He liked Träume so much he set it for solo violin and chamber orchestra as well. And here are a few versions to accompany the snow.

Lotte Lehmann from 1941…

Interpretive freedom that seems fresh, but is, in fact, so old fashioned by today’s puritanical textual standards.

The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann (currently best-known in the U.S. for not being at the Met in Tosca), with his ability to summon a burnished baritonal sound as needed and such vocal tenderness (particularly for a helden tenor).

Finally, in case sung German is just not your thing, here is the violin arrangement, also gorgeous.

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